The day I am able to load up the BBC news website, and not be greeted by at least one article screaming about a gun crime incident somewhere in the western world, will be a day I will mark down as a ‘good day’
Monday (Tuesday American time) was not a good day. Quite the opposite. Our hearts go out to the victims and families of all those involved in the Las Vegas shooting, that has seen 58 people lose their lives and leave more than 500 people injured. This sort of tragedy is particularly hard to swallow because the shooter is a suspected ‘lone wolf’ with no clear signs of aggravation. At the moment it seems to be a case of pure, unnecessary violence.
Now, it is very difficult not to get angry when talking about these types of incidents. You try to pull the pieces together to form some sort of logical response to the question, ‘why did the shooter do it?’ However, it is near impossible to do that.
A coward in his castle
It has since been discovered that the shooter ‘killed himself’ after committing the shooting. It is impossible to feel empathy or sympathy for the shooter, especially as we now have learnt he took his own life, he has dismissed any chance of punishment or facing the guilt of what he has done. However, taking an emotional step back from the situation, we have to start thinking of the bigger picture.
Do you honestly think we have it better?
I bet you read all these articles about mass shootings, and breathe a sigh of relief that a large majority of these cases are found over the pond in the USA. Don’t feel guilty, I have done the exact same thing. That was, right up until the point I read an unsettling statistic.
There has been in an increase of 23% in firearm offences between 2015-2016 in the UK.
Firearms control in the UK is among the toughest in the world after Thomas Hamilton unloaded his legally held arsenal of handguns on Dunblane primary school killing 16 children and their teacher. Public petitions were set up calling for a ban on the private ownership and use of handguns in the UK after this incident and the then Prime Minister John Major passed the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 - banning all cartridge ammunition handguns, except 22 calibre single-shot weapons. But not long after the 22 handguns were banned then in the same year, when Tony Blair came into power.
There has been only one mass shooting in the UK – in Whitehaven, Cumbria, in 2010, when Derrick Bird killed 12 people – since Dunblane. But in the year ending March 2017, there was a total of 6,375 firearm offences recorded in England and Wales (up 23% from 2016). I think that is a lot for a country with some of the tightest gun control laws.
Why? Well, after scouring for research. We don't really know. No one is asking why. Is it the age old argument that violent video games make people want to pick up guns? Does poor mental health have anything to do with it? Is access to guns easier? Or is it racism or gang crime bubbling to the surface of society, resulting in violent behaviour and the need to arm up?
Maybe this is crazy, but I think the right to own a gun is trumped by the right not to be shot by one (Andy Borowitz)
Gun laws are very different between the UK and the USA. We know this. But with tight gun control laws here in the UK, why is gun crime rising at such an alarming rate? We need to understand attitudes, behaviours, motivations and get to the underlining roots and causes of why gun use, gun carrying and gun related crime is on the up. We have the data - so lets dig deeper. Anyone up for some research?